A Fulbright Scholar in Africa

Professor Warren Binford, head of Willamette University's Clinical Law program, spent the Fall 2012 semester in Africa, researching and lecturing on children's rights as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa. Here are some images from her time there.

  • Professor Binford greets young women in Khayelitsha
    Professor Binford greets young women in Khayelitsha

    Professor Binford spent considerable time in South Africa's townships, the urban areas where non-whites were forced to live under South Africa's apartheid regime. Apartheid ended in 1994, but the townships -- rows and rows of corrugated tin shacks and cement block houses where people live shoulder to shoulder -- remain. These youths live in Khayelitsha, located on the Cape Flats in Cape Town.

  • The struggle continues
    The struggle continues

    "A Luta Continua" is Portugese for "the struggle continues." The phrase is on the wall of South Africa's Constitutional Court, which was established with the adoption of the country's first democratic constitution in 1994. The constitution is considered one of the most progressive in the world, and the court's 11 judges are charged with upholding its provisions.

  • Framing the legal discussion around children's rights
    Framing the legal discussion around children's rights

    Julia Sloth-Nielsen, Dean of Law at the University of the Western Cape, is an internationally recognized expert on the topic of children's rights. "When people think about children's rights in Africa, they think about disasters, they think of HIV/AIDS, they think of children falling through the cracks," she says. "It's always been my goal to try and shift the overwhelmingly negative thinking to look at the posittives. There are a lot of positive developments that have been happening around children's rights in Africa."

  • A crusader for children's rights
    A crusader for children's rights

    Ann Skelton directs the Centre for Child Law at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. Since 2004, the Centre has used strategic litigation -- filing cases that have the potential of changing the lives of children throughout the country by establishing legal precedent -- to advocate on behalf of South Africa's most vulnerable citizens. "If we make sure children have the best opportunities when they're young, they can fulfill their potential," she says. "I don't think the work is ever done."

  • Gabisile Nxumato
    Gabisile Nxumato

    Gabisile Nxumato, 19, of Swaziland, got pregnant during high school. "At first I wanted to kill myself," she says. "I had more plans about myself, and I thought that now all my plans have failed." As to what kind of life she wants for her baby, she says she wants her to go to high school. Gabisile would like to return to school herself, but says she doesn't have the money to do so.

  • Preschool in Swaziland
    Preschool in Swaziland

    Non-governmental organziations (NGOs) in Swaziland have established "Neighborhood Care Points" throughout the country -- places where kids who have lost one or both parents to AIDS can go to get "foundational training" in math and writing. Teacher Nonhlanhla Lukhele teaches the children to not criticize people who have AIDS and has taught them to recite a poem that reads in part: "I am AIDS/I don't care if you are a soldier/or a doctor/or the police/in the end/it kills all."

  • Living with HIV
    Living with HIV

    Sithembiso Lukhele, 7, lost his mother to AIDS. He started showing symptoms of the disease when he was 5. "He was at school and he was doing great," his teacher says. "He was ill and went to the hopsital, and when he came back he was unable to speak and he didn't hear. And now he's at home and not at school. When he comes to my house, I give him food."

  • Child-headed households
    Child-headed households

    The number of people with AIDS in Swaziland is the highest in the world. So many children have lost parents to the disease that the country is now experiencing an increase in child-headed households. Sonto Kunene's mother died in 2009, her father in 2010, and she and her younger siblings live on their own in a two-room cement house. Sonto, in white, says she wants to be a teacher when she gets older so she can help her brothers and sisters.

  • S. Dlamini
    S. Dlamini

    S. Dlamini jokes around with friends at her school in rural Swaziland. She was abused by her uncle and couldn't get help from her family or the police. She told her story during a workshop sponsoried by the Bantwana Initiative, which helps communities support vulnerable children and their caregivers. When asked what she expects for her future, Dlamini answers, "I'd like to live with anyone who can help me."

  • Rural Swaziland
    Rural Swaziland

    Swaziland is South Africa's tiny neighbor and Africa's last absolute monarchy. The constitution outlines rights for children, such as "special protection against exposure to physical and moral hazards within and outside the family," but in practice those rights aren't always exercised. Children's rights advocates say that rural residents of the country are often unaware of those constitutional provisions.

  • Nomile Simelane
    Nomile Simelane

    Nomile Simelane, 19, said she didn't want to get married at 18 because she hadn't yet taken her school exams. She had hoped to become a nurse or a doctor. Her husband used to give her money for food and so she agreed to marry him. Now, she says, he threatens to beat her.

  • Life in Khayelitsha
    Life in Khayelitsha

    Khayelitsha, a township located on the Cape Flats in Cape Town, South Africa, has more than a million residents. The University of the Western Cape has established a legal clinic there, and most of the clients are female. The clinic offers workshops on how to combat domestic violence and, for owners of shebeens (liquor stores), how to comply with government regulations.

  • Professor Binford in Khayelitsha
    Professor Binford in Khayelitsha

    Khayelitsha is filled with single mothers, who take their children to day care centers while they go to work.

  • Cotlands children's hospice and the AIDS epidemic
    Cotlands children's hospice and the AIDS epidemic

    Jackie Schoeman, director of the Cotlands children's hospice in Johannesburg, South Africa, poses in front of a crib that once held babies dying of AIDS. Now that the number of AIDS-infected newborns has decreased, the hospice is shifting its focus to child develompent. Children's rights lawyers helped force the South African government to administer anti-retroviral drugs to pregmant women with HIV, which slowed the progress of the disease in children.

  • Street life in Khayelitsha
    Street life in Khayelitsha

    A boy tends meat on an outdoor grill in Khayelitsha, a township located on the Cape Flats in Cape Town, South Africa. Among the common offerings are sheep heads, considered a delicacy.

  • Professor Binford visits SOS Children's Village
    Professor Binford visits SOS Children's Village

    SOS Children's Villages give orphaned and abandoned children a home. The children live in family-like settings and are raised as brothers and sisters, with the older teenagers managing household chores and relying on each other for support.